Tag Archives: Lenore Broughton

Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Win, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss, Loss

Congratulations to Jarrod Sammis, newly elected member of the Vermont House in the Rutland-3 district…

… and the only one on my long list of far-right Republican candidates who didn’t lose.

For those keeping score, and you bet I am, that’s one win and 23 losses. Which kinda explains my previous post about how the Vermont Republican Party has led itself, with supreme confidence, deep into the political wilderness with no idea what to do next except Keep Striding Forward!

That 1-23 record wasn’t the only bad news for Team Extreme. They also lost a bunch of races featuring far-right candidates I never got around to covering. Remember that 16 of the 21 Republican Senate candidates were extremists? Well, 12 of them lost. They may have picked up one seat at best. In the House, where the Republican ticket had 42 in irregular earth orbit, 35 of them lost. And that included three incumbent representatives who won’t be coming back: Vicky Strong, Sally Achey, and VTGOP Vice Chair Samantha Lefebvre.

Instead of bulking up their ranks and possibly upending caucus leadership, the extremists actually lost ground. It was a thorough rebuke for ultraconservatism in Vermont.

But let’s start with their only bright spot, the guy with a YouTube channel full of inflammatory videos that revealed an unhealthy fascination with guns and a probably-controlled desire to train them on socialists and communists. The channel he quickly deleted when it became public knowledge, claiming he did so to [checks notes] protect his family’s privacy. Sammis eked out a two-point win in reliably conservative territory. Bully for him.

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Hey, Lenore Broughton Has Found Another Rathole to Throw Her Money Into

Well, doesn’t that look impressive. A new “Institute” focused on the idea of Human Flourishing, a well-established principle in the humanities — and also in evangelical Christianity. Classically restrained logo and font. You might assume this is a broad-based serious enterprise… until you explore its website further.

Upon which you discover that (a) there’s not a heck of a lot of substance, just a few minimal pages with big pictures and not much text, and (b) the Institute’s two top officers are former VTGOP chair Deb Billado and Vermont’s Favorite Archconservative Moneybags, Lenore Broughton.

I’ll give you one guess who’s writing the checks for this outfit.

The Vermont Institute for Human Flourishing joins the likes of True North Reports and the late unlamented Vermonters First on the roster of no-hope organizations Broughton has funded in lieu of doing anything that might actually have an impact.

Well, to be fair, it’s too early to make that call on VIHF. It hasn’t had time to fail. Yet.

A brief explanation of “human flourishing.” In the social sciences slash humanities, it’s an interdisciplinary study of how best to help people reach their full potential. (Harvard has a Human Flourishing Program.) In evangelical Christian circles, it means channelling sexuality into traditional male/female marriage and battling deviant practices like homosexuality, extramarital sex, and pornography.

I think we know which camp the Vermont Institute is a member of.

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Bruce Lisman Plays the Field (UPDATED)

While we wait for the final September 1 campaign finance reports to trickle in, here’s a little thing I noticed. Bruce Lisman, failed (and self-funded) candidate for governor, founder of Campaign for Vermont, and former Bear Stearns executive who may have been portrayed as a real dummy in the movie version of “The Big Short,” has made a total of three donations* to Vermont candidates so far this year.

*Update! Phil Scott just reported a $1,000 contribution from Lisman. So, four.

Together, they could serve as the dictionary definition of “mixed bag.” Let’s see if you can discern a pattern here.

He gave $500 to Sen. Joe Benning’s campaign for lieutenant governor. Not surprising at all.

He gave $500 to Patricia Preston’s hopeless bid for LG as a sort of centrist.

So far we’ve got what used to be called a mainline Republican and a moderate Democrat. *Plus a putatively moderate Republican.

The third fourth gift? $1,000 to “Farmer” John Klar’s campaign for state senate.

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Already, The Mask Slips

Vermont’s tiny but determined anti-abortion cohort had it all figured out. Instead of the usual frontal attack about baby-killing and “Before I formed thee, I knew thee” and implicit slut-shaming, they were going to make a disguised, indirect attack on Article 22. It was all lies, but at least it was subtle.

To carry this through November 8, however, would require a level of self-restraint not usually present among the committed pro-lifers. And sure enough, they couldn’t even make it to Labor Day before letting the mask slip.

The above is a mailer distributed by “Vermonters for Good Government,” the front organization set up by Right to Life Vermont and their deep-pocketed friends Lenore Broughton, Carol Breuer and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which apparently emerged from the financial crisis of the child sexual abuse scandal with enough scratch to throw $50,000 into the anti-Article 22 dumpster.

The mailer reverts to classic punch-in-the-face anti-abortion style: LATE-TERM ABORTION in 120-point type, fetal images designed to show how innocent and defenseless they are, references to fetuses as “babies,” and a layout that would make a professional designer hang their head in shame.

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If Lenore Broughton Had a Clue, She Could be Dangerous

Reclusive Montgomery Ward heiress Lenore Broughton, who must be referred to as “reclusive heiress” under the immutable laws of journalism, is by a longshot the most generous conservative donor in Vermont.

She is, of course, a modestly-sized frog in a tiny pond. She’s nowhere near the DeVoses or Uihleins of the world. But in Vermont, she’s got enough muscle to move our political center of gravity to the right.

Fortunately, she has no idea how to effectively spend her money. She wastes a lot of it on fruitless ventures, outmoded ideas, and candidates who are far too conservative to make any difference in public office even if they win. (What should she do instead? Read on, my friend.)

Most recent example: Broughton donated a cool $100,000 to Vermonters for Good Government Action, the thinly-veiled anti-abortion group trying to defeat Article 22. In a year when 59% of voters in goddamn Kansas refused to open the door to abortion restrictions, what hope is there of prevailing in deep blue Vermont?

You might chalk that up to unshakable belief. Broughton probably can’t help but spend heavily against reproductive rights. But how do you explain her bankrolling True North Reports, that seldom-read outpost of conservative commentary and “news”? There’s no way to know how much she spends on TNR because it’s a private venture, but it must be quite a lot. The return isn’t a bang for her bucks; it’s more like a wet fart.

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Vermont’s Anti-Abortion Movement Just Acknowledged It Can’t Win

The Vermont Right to Life Committee, which has led the losing battle against abortion in our state for decades, is strangely absent from the campaign over Article 22.

Or so it would seem.

In a tacit acknowledgment that their brand is irredeemably tainted, anti-abortion activists have gone under cover. They’ve created a new group with the anodyne monicker of Vermonters for Good Government Action to lead the fight against Article 22. They’ve adopted rhetoric that never expresses blanket opposition to abortion. No fetus pictures, nothing whatsoever about life beginning at conception, no screaming about The Abortion Industry.

Because hey, who could possibly oppose Good Government Action?

But look at who’s funding this thing: ultraconservative donor Lenore Broughton has dropped a cool $100,000, ardent prolife donor Carol Breuer gave $50,000, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which long ago forfeited any claim to moral superiority, kicked in another 50 G’s. The rest of the human race donated a total of $14,039.

Also, there on the “Treasurer” line of VGGA’s campaign finance filing is the name “Sharon Toborg,” who is merely the second most prominent (behind Mary Beerworth) anti-abortion activist in Vermont and a stalwart leader of Vermont Right to Life.

The one to watch is Broughton, who once spent more than a million bucks in a futile bid to swing the 2012 election for the Republicans. She could top that figure easily. I think we should expect that she will.

The problem with Broughton’s backing is, well, it’s kind of a curse.

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Into a Conservative Cul-de-Sac and Out Again

We all know that the world of Vermont conservative politics is a small one. Recently, I was doing some campaign finance research when I came across an example of exactly how small a world it really is.

The object of my research was far-right megadonor Lenore Broughton. I’m tracking her state and federal campaign contributions for an upcoming post.

Most of Broughton’s activity is on the federal level, and she supports exactly the kind of politicians you’d expect: Donald Trump, Lauren Boebert, Josh Hawley, Jim Jordan, Ron Johnson, etc. But that’s a tale for another day. On the state level in the 2020 election cycle and the 2022 cycle (so far), she’s made four separate donations.

She gave $5,000 to the Vermont Republican State Committee. She gave $500 to the Rutland County Republican Committee. And she cut two checks totaling $8,050 to something called Right for Vermont.

This is where we turn into the cul-de-sac. It’ll be a short but entertaining ride.

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The Unlikeliest Superhero

When Jeb Spaulding became newly-elected governor Peter Shumlin’s top cabinet official in January 2011, his little-known deputy was chosen to serve out the remainder of his term.

That deputy went on to become, arguably, the most popular officeholder in the Vermont Democratic Party. She routinely got loud, sustained ovations at VDP gatherings, and was at the top of many Democrats’ wish lists as a candidate for governor. But she had no interest in being anything other than Treasurer.

And now Beth Pearce has announced her retirement as Treasurer at the end of her term, when she will have served 12 years in the office.

First and foremost, all the luck in the world to Pearce as she battles cancer. Having watched Pearce in action, I have to say cancer has no idea what it’s in for.

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For Nolan, It’s Bad News All the Way Down

Christina Nolan’s longshot bid for U.S. Senate got quite a bit longer last week, with the filing of first-quarter campaign finance reports. For starters, as expected, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch did what he’s always done — fundraise the hell out of his opposition. He pulled in $839,000 and spent roughly half of that, bringing his total warchest to a daunting $2.96 million.

Nolan? She received $157,000 in donations and spent about one-third of that, leaving her a smidge over $100K in cash on hand.

Sort of.

Thirteen of Nolan’s donors gave the maximum $2,900 for the primary campaign. Eight of those 13 also gave an additional $2,900, which must be reserved for the general election. That adds up to $37,700. One other person gave $5,000, of which $2,100 must be spent on the general. So her effective cash on hand — money she can spend between now and August 11 — is only $61,747. Which means that right now, today, Welch’s kitty is effectively an astounding forty-eight times as large as Nolan’s.

Ouch. Double ouch with nuts. I was going to make a David v. Goliath reference, but this is more like Bambi v. Godzilla. If this race wasn’t done and dusted already (hint: it was), these filings remove any remaining whispers of doubt.

But wait, there’s more! Bad news, that is.

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The VTGOP’s Little Oligarchs

I’ve written before of the delicate high-wire act between moderates and far-righters that VTGOP chair Paul Dame is perfectly unsuited to carry out. He’s got to try to encompass the Phil Scott camp and all the ultraconservatives who litter the party apparatus.

Turns out, he also has to play nice with a coterie of big donors ($1,000 or more apiece) who are keeping the party above water, and most of them tilt strongly rightward.

The VTGOP has had fundraising trouble since I started tracking #vtpoli back in 2011. They still do. A check of the party’s FEC filings shows that, from January 2021 through February 2022, total party fundraising added up to $94,081. They got another $14,350 from the Republican National Committee, bringing total takings to $108,431.

That’s less than $10,000 a month, even with the RNC’s pity money.

Compare that to the Vermont Democratic Party, which raised almost $300,000 from individual donors in the same period — at a time when the party was seriously disorganized and suffering frequent turnover among leadership and staff. But that’s just the beginning; the VDP took in another 300K from other organizations. Almost two-thirds of that came from the Democratic National Committee. Most of the rest came from Democratic politicians’ campaign funds and members of Vermont’s Congressional delegation as well as a couple of big labor unions and, for some reason, $500 apiece from sports-gambling giants FanDuel and DraftKings.

Add it all up, and it’s more than $600,000 in the same period when the VTGOP barely cleared $100,000.

So the VTGOP is scrambling for any dollar it can find. And of its fundraising total, $42,670 — more than 45% — came from big-dollar donors. Well, big-dollar by Vermont standards anyway. But clearly, they make up enough of the VTGOP’s donor base that they have to be catered to. Now, let’s look at who they are.

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